Proposed settlement filed in State Fair stage collapse lawsuit

(File photo)

INDIANAPOLIS (WISH) — A proposed settlement is now in place in the ongoing class-action lawsuit surrounding the 2011 stage collapse at the Indiana State Fair. The disclosure is made inside court documents made public Tuesday and obtained by I-Team 8.

The documents were filed by mediator John Van Winkle, who moderated sessions between the State of Indiana, its co-defendants Live Nation Worldwide, Dave Lucas Entertainment and Mid-America Sound and at least 11 plaintiffs injured during the stage collapse. The sessions, held May 5-6, 2014 came nearly three-years after incident, and resulted in preliminary agreements or agreements in principal between the plaintiffs and all but one of the defendants, according to court documents.

“The parties have been working to finalize releases and other settlement documentation,” Van Winkle wrote in the supplemental report to Judge Theodore Sosin, dated September 5, 2014. “Because of the number of parties involved, to facilitate the finalization of the agreements, the court might consider settling a deadline of 15 or 30 days for the parties to complete the settlements.”

Seven people were killed and dozens more were injured when a storm brought down the rigging over the stage on Aug. 13, 2011 as the band Sugarland was preparing to begin their show. The incident became the focus of several separate investigations, and led to changes in outdoor concert venues around the world.

The class action lawsuit originally included more than 60 plaintiffs, seeking to hold accountable those who put up the stage and the band Sugarland for their injuries and the death of loved ones. Many of those plaintiffs settled their cases, splitting a total payout from the State of Indiana of $11 million. That figure included the maximum $5 million cap on tort damages allowed by Indiana law, plus an additional $6 million appropriated for victims of the collapse by the Indiana legislature.

However, some plaintiffs elected not to settle with the state under those terms, and continued on with the class-action lawsuit.

Even with a proposed settlement in place, Judge Sosin agreed in a court order issued Monday to set an amended case management plan.

Under that plan, a trial in the case that had been tentatively set for Nov. 6, 2014 was cancelled. Judge Sosin instead set a status conference for that day, along with a series of new deadlines on things like expert witness disclosure and rebuttal experts.

In the absence of a finalized settlement agreement, final witness lists and evidence exhibits must be filed by May 1, 2015, and all discovery completed by July 1, 2015, Sosin ruled.

No new potential trial date was set.

I-Team 8’s calls requesting comment from attorneys involved in the case were not immediately returned.

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